Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Embracing the Fingerprints on the Fish Bowl


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Children grow up playing hide and seek, school and house and while I played all of these things as a child, I also played church. My brother was on the piano and I often had “a word from the Lord” for the dolls, stuffed animals and pretend congregations that filled the living room. When you grow up as a PK (preacher’s kid) you mimic what you see. I loved playing church. I loved picking out worship songs, greeting church members, praying with them, and teaching them the word of God. It came as no real shock when at the age of 15 I felt the Lord calling me into ministry. At that time, I wasn’t exactly sure how that would look but marrying a pastor was certainly part of my dream.
The life of pastors and politicians have been referred to as fish bowl lives because every move you make is under scrutiny and being examined with a microscope. As a child, I don’t remember living in a fish bowl. I am sure we did, but my parents did a good job shielding us for the criticism and the opinions of onlookers. I have extremely fond memories of growing up as a PK. We experienced baptisms in the bathtub, impromptu prayer meetings in the den, missionaries as guests and revivals where we witnessed the life changing power of Jesus Christ.  As an adult, I am now aware of the many, many fingerprints and the tapping that occurred on the fish bowl of my childhood but the memories are not negative.
At the age of 22 I met a man who was called into ministry and the Lord in his sovereignty joined our hearts and our visions in ministry and matrimony. I soon found myself the wife of a pastor, a stay at home mom to 4 boys, driving a mini-van and living the dream. And truly most days were just that, a dream come true, but the reality of the ministry life is that we are living in a fish bowl. Every action, every word, every purchase, every vacation, every part of your life is being watched as those inside the church and those outside the church press their noses to the glass to watch. Sometimes that fish bowl feels very cramped and I long to swim in the open ocean far away from the view of onlookers. This longing is not born out of a need to do anything that is hidden, for all that I do is seen by my Savior and it is him I live to please, but I have days that the critical eyes and the piercing words are too much to bare. I am sure that it happens in other areas of life but I have never told my doctor how to do his job. Why? Because I am not a doctor. I have never shared my opinion of flying with a pilot and I certainly don’t tell our accountant how to do our taxes. I have never had the opportunity to vote on the pay or vacation time of a lawyer and truthfully if he wants to buy a new car or wear shoes that aren’t polished that is up to him. In ministry, there are so many that take an interest in every movement that occurs in the fish bowl. They can swim better, hide better, breathe better, interact with the other fish better and yet they have never spent one day in the fish bowl or even underwater. If you are in ministry you know the exact fingerprints I am referring to. Now before I get accused of sounding bitter or angry in ministry let me change directions. Yes, there are those rare days when I want to escape the fish bowl, but the Lord has been molding and shaping my heart and teaching me how to “Embrace the fingerprints on the fish bowl.”
Embrace has been defined as holding closely as a sign of affection. It is the picture of enthusiastically and willingly clasping to your bosom that which you want to take to heart. When you embrace you accept wholeheartedly what is being offered. To embrace the fingerprints on the fish bowl is to welcome and accept the impressions of others, their mark on your life, their touch and even their peculiarities. In ministry, we are privileged to encounter many personalities and even more peculiarities. Embracing those differences is to welcome them and ask the Lord how He wants to use those people and their fingerprints or impressions on your life to make you more like Him. Our goal is to become more like Jesus each and every day.  Just as Paul said, “I want to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11 we too should desire to know Jesus in every aspect of His being. Sometimes the fingerprints are impressions left there by those who want to see how they can bless you and enrich your life while others are there to critic and condemn, but if received with the right heart those impressions can also be blessings. It is through those hard times that we learn how to love as Christ loved and He uses those trials of the heart to make us more like Himself.
All of mankind consists of broken people. That is why ministry is necessary. Without the brokenness caused by our sin, we would have no need for the redemption of a Savior. We minister to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We minister to proclaim His love and His message and didn’t He love the unlovable? Even me? I don’t press my nose against others fish bowls very often, rarely do I even peer into the glass, sometimes because of the lack of transparency but mostly because “my opinion of you is none of your business.” My “opinion” of you honestly doesn’t matter, but HIS opinion of you does. Since HE is the only one who matters, my one and only goal is to point you to Jesus. When you know Jesus, you know Truth. When you live according to the truth and live to please an audience of ONE, then it doesn’t matter who is peering in your bowl because HIS opinion is the only one that matters.
It has taken many years, but I have learned to embrace each unique and peculiar fingerprint. I have learned to trace the individual impression that each identifying mark leaves behind and ask the Lord, “What were you teaching me with this one? And how can I become more like you because of this one?” I have developed a heart of gratitude (most days) as I realize that each marking, unique to the individual, were all a part of my sanctification process. The more fingerprints, the more opportunities to grow and allow the Lord to purify my heart. Some days I would like to cry out, “Are you done yet?” but I know the answer before the question is fully formed.  “No, not yet.” And that will continue to be the answer until the Lord Jesus returns to call me home to Heaven.
I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you are in the ministry and weary of all the fingerprints, maybe you serve the Lord in another area and the criticism is too much to bare or maybe you aren’t involved in ministry, yet you feel like the fish bowl of your life has become an observation deck, take heart today and ask the Lord how He could use each fingerprint, each pressed nose and each on looking eye to show you more of Himself. Usually people stop looking in the fish bowl when the fish are belly up. If they are looking it means there is still something to see and your life can be a beautiful testimony of a life lived, molded and shaped to bring glory and honor to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I Thessalonians 2:8 "So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well."

Thursday, February 28, 2019

SEX - What's the big deal?


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I heard a story about a small village where vicious crocodiles inhabited a nearby lake. The people of this village were terrified of the crocodiles and would not dare to speak of them. There were regular crocodile attacks causing severe injuries to the villagers. The crocodiles would approach the land and drag babies and children into the water. They would rip off limbs and leave women as widows and men as single dads. Daily the crocodiles claimed the lives of children, adults and destroyed families but no one wanted to talk about the crocodiles. A man visiting this village noticed the mass destruction and yelled out that “the crocodiles are killing and destroying your village.” The villagers silenced the man and said, “We don’t speak about the crocodiles.”
Just as the crocodiles were destroying this village so too is sex destroying our society. Sex is killing our babies, destroying marriages and taking lives daily. Why have we allowed this to happen? Sex is talked about in the movies we watch, the television shows that entertain us, the commercials, on Netflix, Hulu and You-tube, the books we read, our magazines, newspaper articles, music videos, songs, raps, billboards and advertisements, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Tik Tok, the actions of our friends, our parents, our teachers, our coaches, politicians, and even our celebrity heroes. Sex is talked about all day long in every situation but the church for the most part has remained silent on the subject for fear of offending people with the word “sex.” My oldest son took a stand for purity from the stage of a church and his words were shocking even though his message was truth and biblically sound. It ruffled a few feathers, but I would argue that it is time to ruffle feathers within our world. When millions of babies are being killed because parents didn’t count the cost before gratifying the cravings of their sinful nature, when adults are abandoning their spouses and children after they took a vow to be a family, when parents are teaching their children to be people of their word yet they lie, cheat and sleep around, when teachers, coaches and even some pastors call you to a code of ethics and a life of responsibility yet their very actions defy their teaching, when celebrities claim to be worthy of the title of role model yet the branches of their offspring outweigh the stability of their trunk and the spelling of their diseases are beyond their education it is TIME to ruffle some feathers by speaking out on the subject of sex.
Statistics tell us that students have had their first kiss by the age of 12. Only 13% of 20 year olds are still virgins. Men will have an average of 14.14 sexual partners in their lifetime and women will have an average of 7.12 sexual partners in their lifetime. In the year 2018 60% of marriages ended in divorce and 2 out of every 5 couples that walk through the doors of the church every Sunday end up in divorce court.
As a high school teacher, I have students that tell me, “Having sex before marriage is not wrong. It used to be wrong back in the Bible days but that doesn’t apply anymore.” This philosophy follows suit with our society’s actions. They believe this to be true because it falls in line with what they see. We tell our children and our teenagers, “Do as I say, not as I do,” when we know the reality is children mimic what they see. Watch your young toddler or child and you will see that they mimic phrases, expressions and the behaviors of those around them. We must set the standard before our children that we expect them to follow and that standard must be formed according to the truth of scripture. Too often we allow our culture and our circumstances to determine our standards instead of allowing the Word of God to be our standard and lining our cultural exposure and our convictions up with that standard.
If the rules, standards and convictions of your family are thought of as strange, REJOICE, you are probably doing something right. If you blend in, look like every other family, can compare notes or fall into one of the statistics categories then it is time to ask why?
We see so many who are having children out of wedlock, women aborting babies because “that” wasn’t the plan and children who are being torn between the homes of two parents because someone else looked more appealing or differences couldn’t be overcome. I recently heard a young person say, “I have 14 siblings on my dad’s side but they have 5 moms and I have 10 siblings on my mom’s side and they have 5 dads.” Think about that for just a moment and ask yourself the question, “When did we lose the sanctity of the marriage bed?” Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
Who is teaching our young people the truth about love, sex and relationships?  Do you want the cold, hard truth? WE ARE! We are allowing the world to speak louder than the Word. As our world desensitizes us to sexual sins, even we as believers have ceased to be shocked unless we hear it mentioned in church. It is less shocking to find out that a family member is having a baby out of wedlock than it is to hear a young believer address sexual sins from the pulpit. This is a heart breaking and a disgusting reality. Even within the church we find appalling statistics of youth who have engaged in sexual behaviors. Even those who claim the name of Christ try to see how far they can go without falling off the ledge.
My oldest son reminded me of an analogy that puts this into perspective. You are in need of transportation down a very steep mountain. These roads have no guardrails and the streets are very near the mountain’s edge. As you interview taxi drivers to see who you will entrust your dangerous route to you ask this question, “How close to the edge do you drive?” Driver one says, “I like to drive fast and as close to the edge as I can so I can have a good view of all the scenery.” Driver two says, “I drive pretty fast and try to keep it somewhere in the middle occasionally looking over the edge for a quick glance.” Driver three confesses, “I don’t drive real fast and I stay as close to the mountainside as I can but I assure you I will deliver you safely and the view of this majestic mountain will be worth it once you reach your destination.” Now tell me, which driver would you choose to take you to the bottom of the mountain? When the loss of your life is at stake, staying far away from the edge seems like the only reasonable option. The misuse of sex is just as deadly. Our society is dying. We lose lives to sexually transmitted diseases and abortions but we also experience the death of families, friendships and the ultimate joy that a life lived according to the Word of God can bring. So many exchange the pleasure of the moment for the heartache of a life lived outside of the will of God.
In a world where we have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and the devil is working at every turn to blind our eyes from the truth even those who claim to be believers in the Lord Jesus take scripture out of context to make it fit their situations. To say that you “know” Jesus and you are going to Heaven because you warm a section of the pew on Sunday yet you reject the truth of His word and live according to your own standards only confirms that you are deceived and the truth does not live within you. This is not said in hate or judgement but spoken out of the truth of scripture. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness” This verse of scripture is not meant to evoke fear in the heart of believers but instead it is meant as a heart examination. Do you claim His name by your words only or is your heart surrendered to Him? When our hearts truly belong to Him we will DO THE WILL OF OUR FATHER and His will is found in His word. Study His word and do what it says out of an overflow of the love you have for Him in your heart and life.
  So, what will we do with Sex? How can we make this gift a sacred act between one man and one woman within the bond of marriage? The first step is total and complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. When He has total control of your life and you are seeking to obey and please Him in all things your life and convictions will line up with the truth of scripture. When this happens, you learn to die to selfish desires and say yes to holiness and live according to the standards of the Word of God. When our hearts are surrendered to Jesus we are convicted and sorrowful when we are tempted to sin or involved in sin. Second, if you claim the name of Jesus then set your standards according to His Word. Don’t see how close to the mountain’s edge you can get but seek how you can please your Savior and obey Him with a heart of love. Lastly, be bold and courageous in your teaching and in your rebuke. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ should speak loudly and stand clear on this topic. Don’t shy away from the truth. Don’t live in fear of being different but embrace the difference that comes from scripture and in love go to your brothers and sisters in Christ and show them the truth of scripture. Young people, write down your convictions according to scripture and ask 2 or 3 people you trust to hold you accountable and ask you regularly if you are living according to biblical convictions in your relationships.
If indeed crocodiles were invading our communities, killing children and destroying families we would be bold and courageous in warning others, in containing the danger and in seeing that the crocodiles were stopped. Let’s shut the mouths of this dangerous crocodile we call sex and keep it caged within the safety of marriage where it can be enjoyed and appreciated just the way God designed it to be.
I would be amiss if I didn’t end with grace. We are all sinners and we make mistakes. We are all in need of the forgiveness of our Savior. The gift of grace means that when we confess our sins to our Savior he forgives us and remembers our sins no longer. True repentance means we turn and go in the opposite direction. When we sin and we are convicted of that sin we ask for forgiveness and we walk in the opposite direction of our sin. To abuse grace is to continually commit the same sin over and over again asking for and expecting forgiveness with no desire to ever change that behavior. At this point you need to examine your heart and ask yourself if indeed you have ever surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus. I John 3:6 “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” We go on to read in I John 3:9 “Anyone born of God refuses to practice sin, because God’s seed abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” Scripture makes it clear that if we truly know Him and Jesus is truly our Savior, we will not purposefully choose sin and we will recognize within our spirit’s the conviction of that sin and desire to turn from it and seek forgiveness. Yes, my friend, there is forgiveness of sin and we are all in need of the amazing grace that only Jesus can provide but a life that is truly surrendered to Jesus will be the life that thankfully and humbly receives that grace and allows the spirit of God to change you from within so that your words, attitudes and actions are an overflow of the sweet spirit that dwells within the heart of every true believer.
When we decide to live a life that follows the one we claim to know, we will begin to slay those crocodiles one at a time and take back our babies, our children, our teenagers, our marriages and ultimately our villages in the name of Jesus Christ and claim purity in His name living victoriously according to His word.
           


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"The Waves of Your Words"

I love to vacation at the beach. My favorite time of day is late afternoon when the crowd has cleared away and I can sit at the shore and read my favorite book. Sometimes I get distracted and I begin to make drip castles in the sand. A drip castle is made from very wet sand and is dripped layer upon layer to create a unique masterpiece. Inevitably about the time I finish my creation, a wave reaches my location and wipes away all my hard work. The waves before would threaten to do the same but not succeed, but this one, this one destroys my creation and I must start from the bottom and build it up once again. Have you ever noticed that negative words are much like waves. They continue to threaten over and over again until they finally reach the intended target and destruction occurs. Maybe you didn't mean for the target to ever hear what you said, but it makes its way to them nonetheless. Maybe through the chain of what the Bible says are gossips or maybe it is overheard from a hallway, from around a corner or one aisle over at Walmart. "Oh be careful little mouth what you say." I have recently been on the destruction end of many careless words. They pierce, they hurt and they discourage. Sometimes these words are spoken by sharp tongued individuals who speak before they pray and their insensitive comments pierce like a dart to the very core of your being. Other times they are words spoken out of critical spirits or "harmless" opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? Wrong, according to scripture, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 If you claim the name of Christ this verse applies to you. Is what I am saying helpful? Does it build others up? Does it benefit those who are hearing my voice? If the answer is no then KEEP SILENT. I have been guilty so many times of speaking words that are not helpful and do not build up those around me. The Holy Spirit is so quick to convict me and send me to make right the wrong that I have spoken. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit living within me and allowing me to say no to sin and yes to Jesus. James 1:26 "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." A good test of your heart is to see how quickly the conviction comes when your words are careless. When was the last time you apologized to someone for the hurtful words that came out of your mouth. When was the last time you walked away from a group or called that group out because of the reckless words they were speaking. I understand that we live in a mean and cruel world, but when those who claim the name of Christ are as guilty of hurtful words as those who do not know Christ, it is time for we as believers to practice gentle rebuke. "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this SHOULD NOT BE." James 3:9-10  We as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should look different, act different and speak different. How will this world ever see the hope and difference that Jesus can make if those of us who claim His name are not set apart? We should be a light in a dark world. Scripture says, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6  Our conversations should be a blessing to others. We should enhance the lives of the people around us with the words that we speak. "Lord Jesus, give us the grace and the strength to stand out and be separate from this world. Guard our tongues, Lord Jesus, that we might speak only words that reflect your honor and glory and let us remember that we have the choice to NOT be offended when others wrong us with their actions and words. Allow us to live our lives seeking to please you and you alone. When we seek to please you and you alone, it doesn't matter what others say or think about us. Grant us grace to forgive others when they wrong us and bring quick conviction to our hearts when we wrong others. May we speak with wisdom and may faithful instruction always be on our tongues. For your kingdom's glory. Amen."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Freedom

It was Christmas Day. The presents were wrapped, the pies were made and it was time to sit down for the Christmas feast. Pappy headed down the hill on the dirt road to let the rest of the family know it was time to celebrate. He waved at the man walking up the hill thinking it was Junior, but when both hands went up in surrender he realized it was not his brother in law but a fugitive of the law instead. Not an uncommon occurence since his daddy was a prison guard and the maximum security prison we literally over the river and through the woods. The fugitive assured him he would cause no trouble but instead wanted a ride back to the prison for his escape had turned out to be a mistake. On Christmas Eve the idea of escape and freedom had been overwhelming and he had decided that all he wanted for Christmas was freedom. Freedom from his lot in life. Freedom from facing the consequences of his actions.  Freedom sounded wonderful, but after spending a cold, dark night in the woods he realized he was not truly free, but just in bondage to new obstacles.  Now he wanted to go back. Pappy walked him up the hill to the house and agreed to take him back but not until the family had finished their lunch and exchanged their gifts. Pulling up a chair in typical family fashion they had a guest for Christmas dinner that year. When the last gift had been opened the time came for their new friend to return to his prison. Taking one last piece of pie for the road he ate slowly as they drove, savoring every morsel. The closer they came to their destination he began to ask, " Can you please drive just a little slower?" He had tasted true freedom that day and he wanted it to linger. He was in no hurry to return to the life his choices had made for him. He wanted freedom and not the freedom his life could offer or create for himself, but true freedom. He wanted freedom with frills. He wanted the gifts, the friends, the family and the pie. He didn't want to hide away looking over his shoulder, but he wanted complete and total freedom. He had tasted it and it was good but it was too late. The decision had been made. His course was set and freedom was not an option. Have you ever longed to be free? I mean truly free! Free for fear, free for worry, free from the strongholds that pull you down, free from the struggles and bondage that grip your life. Freedom cannot be simulated. Freedom is a choice. Freedom comes when we make the choice to follow Jesus each and every day.  John 8:36 says, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." I received the ability to walk in freedom 36 years ago when I trusted Jesus as my Savior but I have not always walked in freedom. It has been my choice. It was and is a choice that is made daily. Psalms 119:55 says, "I will walk in freedom because I have sought your precepts." As I seek and know his word I know how I am to think, speak, act and react. Knowing his truth is freedom. Walking in His way is freedom. My theme for the year 2015 is "Walk in freedom." I want to know his word and walk in freedom. Freedom from worry, freedom from the        need to please others, freedom from fear, freedom from self, freedom from sin. Not a freedom that I   try to create but a true freedom than can only come from following Jesus with reckless abandonment. Not a freedom that I savor for a moment for fear that it will soon end, but a freedom that is certain, a freedom that is eternal.  2 Corinthians 3:17-18, " Now The Lord is the Spirt and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, as being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from The Lord who is the spirit." I want to be transformed into his image. I want to reflect His glory in all that I do. Living and playing for an audience of ONE! Walking in Freedom, that is my hearts desire.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Standing In The Gap

Writing is a great passion of mine but for a season The Lord has called me to help those I love seek after their passions, so I have taken a break.  I think we are approaching a "settled" life if that is possible with 4 boys playing 4 sports and learning to bloom in a new community. All this change has brought about much joy but also many struggles.  As I have sought The Lord in dealing with these new life and parenting struggles he continually brings me to Ezekiel 22:30 "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one."  I have been called to intercede on behalf of my husband and children like never before. Intercede- Go Between.  When building a brick wall the mortar goes between the bricks to bind the bricks together and strengthen them. Without the mortar "going between" the wall would collapse. The easiest way to break down a wall is to start where the mortar is weak.  "This" is what the enemy is looking for. He studies our children and he knows their weaknesses. Where will they compromise? Where is the easiest, most vulnerable attack? Guess what?  As their mom I see those areas too. Why? Because I study my children. The Lord has called me to "stand in those gaps" on behalf of my children. To pray for those specific areas. To keep HIS word ever before them concerning those weaknesses. Intercession is to fill in those gaps in our children's spiritual armor and hold them up so the enemy can't gain an advantage.  Mom can't fix it all. Mom can't make it all better or even make all the bad go away, but Mom CAN pray, interceding on behalf of my children.  I can hold their arms up in praise when they are weary.  I have recently seen this first hand.  One of our boys has had a really hard time with moving so far from friends and family. He struggled for quite some time, then I suddenly noticed a huge change is his attitude and countenance. I asked him if he knew what caused the sudden change. He responded, "The only thing that is different is that I have been praying more."  Circumstances had not changed but he was praying and I was praying. I confess that as his mood improved I directed my prayers in a different direction and he too decreased his pleas to The Lord. About a week ago I noticed he was very depressed, teary and just plain miserable. I returned to the gap, asked others to pray and challenged him to seek The Lord.  At the time he was too discouraged to lift his hands in prayer. Ever been there?  I have.  Those of us who know him well, who can see the weak spots began to intercede. The Lord opened up many opportunities for me to hang out with precious young man. We talked, we cried, we shared scripture and we prayed. Last night he came to me and said, "I know God is working because there is nothing else to explain it.  Today I have been overcome with joy. It has to be God." Yes, my son, it HAS to be God. Only God can create beauty from ashes. Only God can turn our sorrow into joy. Only God!  I realized that as a parent we cannot, we must not move away from the gaps in the wall. We must stand guard and intercede on behalf of our children to protect them from the enemy as the walls of their lives are being built.  They are in a battle each and every day and we must commit to standing on the front lines FOR THEM. We know them, sometimes better than they know themselves, so we know how to pray. It is our joy and privilege to lift our children up, to stand in the gap for them as God grows these precious boys into mighty men of God.  He is looking for ONE who will stand in the gap. Will YOU be that one for your children?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Run to Obey"


Earlier this week Matt was in the back of the house and he called, “Jacob, could you please come here.” Jacob quickly jumped up to run to his daddy but as he ran back I heard him say, “Yes sir, am I in trouble?” He was not in trouble. His daddy just wanted to show him something, but he was quick to obey. Actually, he ran to obey. For years I have told my children, “Run to obey.” That is a phrase used quite often in my parenting vocabulary. Jacob was not sure what his daddy wanted but he ran to obey. I wish I could say that I always set that example for my children as I run to obey my Father, but I have not. God has been working in my heart and Matt’s heart for a few months. We knew what it was leading up to but we continued to question...”Why Lord?” “How Lord?” “What then Lord?” As we waited and waited the stirring grew greater and greater. We could hear His voice but we were certain He would not call us to blindly obey. Not this time. We have 4 children, we have people that depend on us, there are people that will be hurt and even disappointed in us. “Lord, it will make more since if you just tell us what and why.” BUT GOD said, “Obey and I will show you the next step.” I heard it clearly but decided to keep it a secret. Maybe I wasn’t really hearing His voice and after all I have to submit to my husband. That was my spirit of justification that sounded very spiritual. About 2 weeks ago Matt heard the same voice and same word...”Obey and I will show you the next step.” I wanted to stomp and say “Dog gone it. It was His voice.” But as I heard my husband pour his heart out to me I knew we had heard the voice of our God clearly and I knew what we had to do. Wow! This was going to be hard. The next day Matt obeyed and I cheered him on. So many things are uncertain and there are so many things that don’t make since, but I trust my Savior and I want to run to obey Him. I knew we would disappoint those that we love and others would just be hurt or even mad, but Matt’s response, “I would rather disappoint the world than disobey my Savior.” As we were sharing our hearts with our children Caleb said, “Well the Lord has spoken and we obey. We NEVER disobey our Lord.” The fact that my 12 year old has that messaged inscribed upon his heart blesses my soul and I pray that as he watches his daddy lead by example that he will become a man who is just as obedient. Sometimes God calls us to obey even when it does not make sense to us. My heart holds firm to the fact that He sees tomorrow clearer than we see today and He works all things for our good and His glory. I do not walk forward in fear but in confidence. I am emotional, but I am excited. He is my refuge and strength and He does not delay. His peace reigns in our hearts and my time with Him is even more precious knowing that I have RUN TO OBEY.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Changing Normal"

The lives we live here in the year 2012 are anything but normal. They have become "accepted" thus seeming very normal, but there is nothing "normal" about parents working 12 hour days, children caring for themselves, children spending every night at athletic events, 1 night a week around the dinner table as a family and only seeing our children for an hour and a half each day. It has at times and for a season become necessary, but it is not normal. IF this is normal, I don't want to be normal. Our society has accepted this way of life and from where I stand it is a trap. One that we have found ourselves caught in. Please hear my heart, what I am about to say is not easy and it is not my intent to ask or insinuate that you should change your normal. Recently the Lord has called Matt and I to a place of evaluation. We have taken some time to evaluate each of our children, our schedule and our family life. During this time of evaluation we have become convicted that it is time to change the Hawkins normal. With four boys we understand that life is going to be busy and we love everything that we do, but a few months ago it hit us that we have 5 years left with Matthew under our roof. Matt came to me and this is what he said, "I have five years left to train Matthew up in righteousness and holiness and to impart Godly wisdom to him and teach him what it means to be a man of God. I have 5 years left to cast a vision for the kingdom of God into his heart and to teach him what it means to be a man of character and integrity and a Godly husband and father. I can't do that in a hour and a half a day. It is time we as a family make a difference for the kingdom of God." His words were such a confirmation because God had been weaving these same thoughts into the tapestry of my heart. We prayed for a month and discussed what this "change" would look like for our family. The Lord impressed on both of our hearts that it was time for the Hawkins to "rest and know that HE is God." For a season, we are resting from ALL extra curricular activities. We have to work, we have to go to school and we get to go to church. Aside from those commitments we will be focusing on what it means to be a family and how we as a family can serve each other and our community. I love watching Matt's excitement as he plans family service projects, family fun nights, family trips and devotions. I know what you are thinking? What do the boys think about this? At first the two oldest were not thrilled and are still trying to respectfully accept this change, but I shared with them, this is not just a good idea or thought or something we want to "try." This is a matter of obedience. The Lord himself has called OUR FAMILY to this place and we MUST obey. If it were just an idea or a thought I would be walking forward with fear and trembling afraid I was setting my children up for a life of therapy, but knowing it is a God Calling on our life I am excited and can't wait to watch and see what He will do during this change. I tell my children often, "I am more concerned with your character than with your comfort and fun." I want you to know that we have awesome children. They love the Lord and they are very good boys, but I can see glimpses of this world weaseling its way into their lives. I see things of this world becoming important to them. I see their identity becoming defined by the sport they play and the opinions of their friends. When those things become evident it is time for a change. God's word tells us that we are to be "in the world, but not of the world." We are to "step out and be separate." The time we have with our children is fleeting. We blink and they are grown and gone. We are stewards but for a time. I want to know that I have done all I can do to teach them, show them and train them to love Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind. This is just for a season. (or so we think!) We must obey! Pray for our family as we walk this road of obedience. Pray that we honor the Lord in ALL we do. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When fear creeps in...

Writing and blogging are definitely on my list of loves, but in recent months that plate quit spinning and fell to the ground while I have frantically tried to keep the rest spinning. Exercising is actually the plate that is spinning out of control and I have lost 40lbs and have become an avid runner. Last night I decided I would run to Matt's office which is just over 1.5 miles away. I set out with the intention of a mild run and decided to turn left instead of right which meant 1.5 turned into 3.8 and light turned to dark before I reached Matt's office. I was faced with a choice. I could take the high traffic road with cars and homes and people or I could take the road less traveled and continue my peaceful run. As my feet pounded against the dirt and the sun set before me I was more than happy with my plan. About 1/2 mile down the dirt road I realized that darkness was approaching fast and would arrive before I reached my destination. I started getting nervous and running faster. My cell phone went dead and it dawned on me that no one knew my route. FEAR overtook my thoughts. I knew where I was going and I knew how to get there, but fear of the unknowns along the way took the joy out of my run. Does this sound familiar? Can you relate? Do you know where you are going? Do you know how to get there? Do the fears and unknowns of this life ever rob you of your joy in the race? With joy gone and 1/2 mile left to run I decided I needed protection. I found a large stick (well maybe it was a limb) on the edge of the road. It was very much like a double edged sword. It was a large limb in the shape of a Y and it took both hands to carry it. At this point I was no longer running towards my destination, I was walking slowly, cautiously and my focus was on my surroundings, NOT on my destination. The sword brought a sense of safety but still uncertain as to what I would do with it if danger approached, I needed more. I began to sing and sing loud. Caleb said "Mom, I can see you walking with a big stick and singing 'I will sing of my redeemer, lift my voice to praise the Lord..." I love that he knows me so well. That is exactly what I was singing. I had my "sword" and His words of praise were on my lips and then I saw the light. I recognized the lamp light that is stationed right outside of Matt's office. When I saw the light my fears were lifted. GONE. I knew my destination was close. I could run again. I held on to my sword and I continued to sing and my joy returned. So what happened? The same thing that happens in our spiritual lives every day. We know our destination and we know how to get there. HE has given us His word as our sword and the guaranteed Holy Spirit within us to be our song and our source of joy and conviction, but unknowns creep in causing us to take our eyes off of the prize. We become distracted and are robbed of the joy of walking with Him daily. Too often we wait until we are afraid, worried or overwhelmed to pick up our sword or to worship Him. Keeping our eyes on Him, staying in His word and living our lives in praise to Him as we worship in spirit and in truth will keep the joy alive as we run this race. Perseverance in the key. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run(A) with perseverance(B) the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus,(C) the pioneer(D) and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,(E) scorning its shame,(F) and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(G) Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary(H) and lose heart. Hebrew 12:1-3